It has not been a good day in Washington, D.C, for the efforts to pass the coronavirus rescue package. The Senate Democrats again blocked the Republican bill from coming to the floor, but discussions are ongoing.
I am concerned with the failure to have more input from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker is promising to unveil her own bill later today and it has the potential to further muddy the water and make compromise in the Senate more difficult.
There is little chance that any bill can pass the Congress today and be signed by the President. An important but obscure parliamentary point is that with the House not in session the only way that a bill passed by the Senate can be approved by the House and sent to the President for his signature is using unanimous consent (UC) . In other words if any one member of the House can get to Washington, and be on the floor of the House, they can stop a bill from passing by being a lone objector.
Speaker Pelosi did say today that she would be willing to go the UC route if the Senate passes a bill that has the unanimous support of the House Democratic caucus. The Speaker could have a real challenge in getting the most progressive members of her caucus to support the bill. She was able to get all Democrats to support the Phase 2 coronavirus bill that passed the House two weeks ago, but there were 40 House Republicans who opposed it.
Therefore, not only does the Speaker have to deliver every Democrat, but the President will have to make sure that none of the 40 Republicans who opposed the last bill oppose the bill that would come to the House from the Senate.
If the bipartisan leadership can’t get unanimous consent they will need to bring the House members back to DC, and with cancelled flights it could take several days for the House to assemble a quorum.
While I don’t see a bill passing today, I continue to believe a bill could pass this week.